It was in the small village of Peddie in the Eastern Cape, where teacher Xolani William’s interest in science was sparked – literally.
Mr William, a natural science teacher at Bernadino Heights High School in Scottsdene, won third place in the “excellence in teaching natural science” category, at the weekend.
The 18th national awards ceremony was held in Sandton on Saturday February 17.
Mr William said he is “very, very passionate about science”.
So passionate was he as a youngster, that together with other school mates, curious to experience science first-hand, they took sodium from the classroom because they had heard “it reacted violently with water”.
“It just went ‘kaboom’,” he said of his early foray into science and experiments.
Mr William has been a teacher for 11 years, spending all this time at Bernadino Heights High, which nominated him for the award.
He went through to the provincial round, then the national round, where, he says, his third-place achievement made him “very happy”.
“I’ve already won, just being there at the awards,” he said.
Mr William studied at UCT, where he graduated with a BSc in pure and applied chemistry and a BSc (Med) (Hons) in pharmacology.
He worked as a lab technician at a liver research centre at UCT. But he said “sitting between four walls” the whole day was not for him.
He loves interacting with the children, although he admits to being strict.
In 2006 he did a post-graduate certificate in education, and in 2010 he graduated from Stellenbosch University with an advanced certificate in education.
The school’s motivation when it nominated him reads: “He is a passionate and dedicated natural and physical science teacher, using many unique and unconventional teaching methods that bring out the absolute best in his learners.”
Bernadino Heights credits Mr William’s dedication for its results in science.
“Mr William and the school can pride themselves on their results, ie, 2014 – 94% passed (includes three A candidates), 2015 – 91% passed (includes one A candidate), 2016 – 96% passed (includes one A candidate),” the school said.
Besides teaching science, Mr William is also involved in athletics.
The school’s motivation further reads: “He is a born teacher who teaches with dedication and unreserved passion.”